|A view from the balcony of the Abbey Wharf|
I'm now back from Whitby. I intended to write another post while there, but I got fed up struggling with the hit-&-miss WiFi connection in The Angel, a JDW pub which, interestingly, had cut some of its prices for real ales: they started at £2.99 last year, but at £2.59 this year.
Many more pubs in Whitby now feature real ale, and the choice overall is far better than it used to be. When I first went to Whitby years ago, the choice was mostly Camerons, Tetley and Sam Smiths. The old Shambles, recently taken over, refurbished and renamed the Abbey Wharf, now has a reasonable choice again; it was quite awful last year, both in beer terms and how it was apathetically run. The Buck, a pub I'd never set foot in before, had a well-kept Timothy Taylors Landlord and Best Bitter, and I was told the nearby Star Inn, which looked like a strictly locals, keg-only pub in the past, now had some decent beer, but I ran out of time before I could find out for myself.
Several pubs had beers from the Whitby Brewery, which was set up in 2013: here are their own beer descriptions. I really wanted to like them, but could not. The 'strong notes of toffee' (brewer's description) in the Abbey Blonde were far too prominent for me, and although I had two or three pints of Saltwick Nab, I couldn't get on with it, but friends enjoyed both.
Copper Dragon Golden Pippin was a good standby in quite a few pubs, including the Middle Earth where it was paired with Saltwick Nab. The Duke of York at the bottom of the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey had an uninspired chloice: Hobgoblin, GK Abbott, Bombardier, Black Sheep, with only Golden Pippin to relieve the boredom. However, the pub does good food and has wonderful views over the harbour. The Endeavour had four beers, three of the ilk of John Smiths cask, and a Salopian (forget which one) which was well worth drinking - although it was £3.70 a pint.
The best music sessions that I came across (there were many I never went to) were in The Station. There are good English tune sessions in The Elsinore, but this isn't really my thing and I like them best in small doses, and also some mixed sessions in the Golden Lion. The Middle Earth is also a good venue for music during Folk Week.
In terms of beer choices, the best pubs were firstly the Little Angel (not to be confused with JDW's The Angel), and secondly The Station, but if you go to Whitby, it's worth wandering around the other pubs too.